Sunday, 15 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Eddie Axberg in The New Land

Eddie Axberg did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Robert Nilsson in The New Land.

Eddie Axberg plays the younger brother of Max von Sydow's Karl-Oskar who has come with his brother to settle in the west of America. Axberg at first expresses a similar enthusiasm to von Sydow although his is best a bit more reduced suggesting that Robert is not exactly that happy to be under the supervision of his older brother. The film has some short moments that focus upon Robert as he tries to settle his own way into the new land, and he does not quite settle in the way Karl-Oskar is able to. Axberg is good as he portrays a certain adventurous spirit with though a similar strong feeling of apprehension in being a place he's not use to. There is one particularly fine scene for him when he thinks he sees one of the natives. Axberg realizes the concern and fearfulness well in Robert as he rather foolishly shoots at the corpse of a dead native who no one was able to bury. Axberg naturally realizes basically the way Robert is quite out of his depth in this new land, and lacks the same love of the land that his brother has. Robert not finding his place decides to move on to California for the gold promised there, which is not approved by Karl-Oskar.

Axberg creates a particularly believable dynamic with von Sydow. Most of the time Axberg shows Robert being comfortable enough with his brother, and there is the sense of their history together. When this changes though is whenever Karl-Oskar orders Robert around. Axberg is very effective in portraying how every word stings Robert as he is clearly most uncomfortable with taking orders from his brother who is acting as though he is his father. Robert sets out with his friend to California nevertheless and disappears for some time. Eventually he returns and the film reveals what happened in quite a stunning scene. The scene is almost dialogue free though Axberg does compelling work in portraying Robert's progression in the scene. He begins with again an enthusiasm, even greater than before. The trip starts to indications of horror which leaves a fall as Axberg so well loses that enthusiasm once again. This only becomes worse as it seems his survival is even in question and Axberg brings such a terrible despair. Each point is incredibly well met by Axberg's performance as he succeeds in believably makes this transition of his journey all in a single extended sequence that is quite remarkable.

The film then focuses upon Robert back at home with his brother and sister-in-law. Axberg is very moving in these scenes showing that Robert lost so much of himself on his doomed trek to California that left his friend dead. Axberg expresses Robert as a changed man who is now resigned to a certain sadness as he is unable to ever forget what happened to him on the trip. Axberg shows that he no longer even has the will anymore to argue with his brother as he just basically accepts his verbal attacks now. There is one particularly affecting scene where Robert goes to visit a brothel, likely looking to feel some sort of pleasure, and Axberg is terrific as he realizes that Robert can even barely connect with the experience because of how haunted he is by the past. Axberg performance is heartbreaking as he essentially shows that Robert died with his friend, and cannot seem to bear living knowing the things that he has seen. Axberg matches well the performances of Ullmann and von Sydow by giving such power into seemingly such simplicity. Axberg differentiates his work from theirs properly presenting Robert's story as one of a man being lost in a land that was apparently never meant for him.


Michael McCarthy said...

1. Ian Bannen
2. Robert Shaw
3. Bruce Dern
4. Eddie Axberg
5. Ned Beatty

I may switch my top two before the next review, but I've been getting the feeling Bannen is being seriously underestimated.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here seen The Army of Shadow (1969)? If so, what does he think of the movie and what are his ratings (and if he wants thoughts) on the cast?

luke higham said...

Early 1969 Lead Suggestions
Michael Caine in The Italian Job
Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
William Holden in The Wild Bunch
Lino Ventura in The Army Of Shadows
Jean-Louis Trintignant in Z
Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider

I've decided to give my request plan for the bonus rounds. I'll only request performances, that may miss out for their respective years.
1. Michael Smiley in Kill List (2011)
2. Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair (2012)
3. Malcolm McDowell in Caligula (1979)
4. Jon Finch in Macbeth (1971)
5. Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (1968)
6. Mads Mikkelsen in Open Hearts (2002)

Kevin said...

1. Shaw
2. Bannen
3. Dern
4. Axberg
5. Beatty

luke higham said...

1. Bannen
2. Shaw
3. Dern
4. Axberg
5. Beatty

luke higham said...

Everyone: What are your bonus round suggestions for 1971 Lead.
Oliver Reed in The Devils (Louis, I'll be extremely sad if you don't review him)
Max Von Sydow in The Emigrants
Jon Finch in Macbeth
Al Pacino in The Panic In Needle Park
Gian Maria Volonte in The Working Class Goes To Heaven
Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge
Seymour Cassel in Minnie and Moskovitz

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: Well I will do what I usually do and pick the 5 I most want to see reviewed, and keeping in mind 70/71 or 71/72, it would be:

Max Von Sydow - The Emmigrants
Al Pacino - Panic In Needle Park
Jon Finch - Macbeth
Oliver Reed - The Devils (Mark Kermode talks about this film often)
Peter Falk - Husbands

I really didnt think much of Nicholson or his film that much at all.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I'm so glad you agree with me on Reed, Finch and Von Sydow.
Also, Louis said that he would do 5 from a single year if there's enough strong contenders, which '71 certainly has.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Well for 1971 I would definitely want Louis to review Pacino, as I believe his performance in Panic in Needle Park is a very, very close second best performance of his (Dog Day Afternoon being his best)

As for the other slots I'd like to see:
Reed in The Devils (sounds like a fascinating film)
Charles Bronson/Alain Delon/Toshiro Mifune in Red Sun
Jon Finch in Macbeth
Paul Scofield in King Lear (sorry for being a Shakespeare geek)

I'm more interested in 1973/1974 to be honest, as a potentially great lineup of:
Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now
Warren Oates in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Robert Shaw in The Hireling
Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye
Edward Woodward in The Wickerman,
as my few suggestions

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also just to note, I've seen all the films I've just mentioned (and I meant The Wicker Man, haha), besides The Devils so feel free to ask me for thoughts and ratings on any of them.

GM said...

Luke: the same as yours, but I would replace Sydow and Pacino with Jean Gabin in The Cat and Seymour Cassel in Minnie and Moskowitz.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Your Rating & Thoughts on Jean Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows.
GDSAO: I thought about Scofield in King Lear, but thought he was in a TV Play, rather than a theatrical adaptation. I'll exchange Volonte with Scofield.
Your Ratings & Thoughts on Finch & Annis in Macbeth, Scofield in King Lear, Sutherland & Christie in Don't Look Now and Woodward, Lee & Cilento in The Wicker Man.

I'm a Shakespeare geek as well by the way.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Finch-4.5 (very close to a 5. I quite loved the film actually as an interesting, aptly bleak adaptation of the Scottish play. I think Polanski realised that it would never be possible to examine all aspects of arguably Shakespeare's greatest play with the format of film, and he just chooses to go as singlemindedly bleak and Finch follows in a very subdued manner. I like how he takes one of the Bard's juiciest roles and really takes his time with it. He's a tightly wound coil throughout and I particularly love how poetically he strung out the dialogue)

Annis-4 (She plays the notes of her duplicity quite softly and I'm not sure whether it works entirely. Nevertheless aside from this nitpicky reservation I think she's pretty magnificent in showing the gradual descent of Lady Macbeth into madness much better than, say, Judi Dench in Macbeth, 1979)

Scofield-5 (He's the definitive Lear in my books. The film around him is a bit too artsy fartsy for my tastes, but Scofield really depicts the tempest in his mind vividly, refusing to play into our hands with sympathy. His poorness and infirmity are physically played to utmost brilliance, he is suitably weak in the storm scenes and stubbornly despicable in his earlier scenes, and his death scene is AMAZING)

Sutherland-5 (His best performance. Sutherland is the master of the straight man performance, and he delivers as the audience's surrogate through Roeg's very strange world. When the film calls upon him to hit emotional beats, he more than delivers)

Christie-4.5 (Not to be crude or anything, but that sex scene with Sutherland is one of the most genuinely erotic scenes in all of cinema. Casting that aside Christie has the more emotional role, and while I don't feel she hits the highs of Sutherland she is certainly a very engaging presence.)

I need to re-watch The Wicker Man before I give my thoughts but Woodward is definitely a solid 5 in my books.

RatedRStar said...


Jean-Pierre (4.5) Its not actually too disimilar to Bradleys work in Kes, except whereas in that film, Bradley was constantly negative and pessimistic before he changes, Pierre is almost one constant ball of bleakness and confusion particularly when he gets into trouble, his very few happy moments are realised quite well showing that there is hope but often it gets bodyslammed back down again, He is also naturally a gifted child actor, no fake child directing here.

luke higham said...

I've found a copy of The Devils, if anyone's interested. It's in its longest available cut, with about 8-9 mins missing.

Matt Mustin said...

Did anyone see anything new recently? I saw Kingsman and kinda loved it.

luke higham said...

Matt Mustin: I enjoyed the hell out of it, but apart from that, Ex Machina and Aardman's Shaun The Sheep Movie, nothing else I'm afraid and I'm planning to see Cinderella next.

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